Erdoğan hosts Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan received on Saturday Ismail Haniyeh, the political chief of the Palestinian militant Islamist group Hamas, state-run Anadolu news agency reported on Saturday.

The pair held a closed-door meeting that lasted over an hour at Istanbul’s Vahdettin Pavilion, the agency said. 

The meeting follows the unveiling on Tuesday of U.S. President Donald Trump’s long awaited Middle East peace plan, which Erdoğan blasted, calling "absolutely unacceptable".  

Trump’s plan promises to keep Jerusalem as Israel's undivided capital, proposes an independent Palestinian state and the recognition of Israeli sovereignty over West Bank settlements.

"The plan will not serve peace and solution in the region. It ignores Palestinians' rights and attempts to legitimize Israel's occupation,’’ Erdoğan said, adding that Jerusalem is sacred for Muslims.

Erdoğan held a phone call on Friday with his Palestinian counterpart, Mahmoud Abbas, reiterating Ankara's support for Palestine in the wake of the proposal. 

Abbas has rejected the plan, which strongly favours Israel, stressing the Palestinians remain committed to ending the Israeli occupation and establishing a state with its capital in east Jerusalem.

Erdoğan is a fierce critic of Israel and defender of the Palestinian cause.  

Trump’s announcement in December 2017 recognising Jerusalem as the capital of Israel spurred a diplomatic row between Turkey, the United States and Israel.